(HealthDay News) — Active smoking, metabolic syndrome, and family history are strongly associated with myocardial infarction (MI) at a younger age, according to a study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2021: The Digital Experience, held virtually from Aug. 27 to 30.

Harm Wienbergen, MD, of the Bremen Institute for Heart and Circulation Research in Germany, and colleagues examined the clinical characteristics of 522 consecutive patients admitted to the hospital with MI at age 45 years or younger compared with a randomly selected cohort of 1191 matched controls from the general population.

The researchers found that compared with the general population, the proportion of active smokers was more than 3-fold higher in younger MI patients (82.4 vs 24.1%), while the proportion consuming alcohol at least 2 times a week was lower (19.9 vs 36.6%). Younger MI patients were more often obese (median body mass index, 28.4 vs 25.5 kg/m2), had hypertension (25.1 vs 0.5%) or diabetes mellitus (11.7 vs 1.7%), and had a family history of premature coronary artery disease (father: 22.4 vs 7.1%; mother: 7.5 vs 1.3%). Strong predictors for MI at a younger age were hypertension or diabetes, active smoking, family history, and body mass index ≥30 kg/m2 in a multivariable analysis, while alcohol consumption was a protective factor.

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“Our study suggests that family history is not the only predisposing factor for early heart attacks,” Wienbergen said in a statement. “The findings add impetus to the argument that young people should be educated about why it is important to avoid smoking and have a healthy body weight.”

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